Our bodies are filled with essential microorganisms that help us fight infections and stay healthy. We have over 3.3 million bacterial genes in our digestive tract alone. Healthy bacteria are important in many parts of the body, especially the vagina. However, infections like bacterial vaginosis can develop from the overabundance of one type of bacteria.
Bacterial vaginosis is quite common, affecting one in three women in the U.S. between 15-44 years of age. Women are also likely to have it more than once. To understand how to avoid this condition, let’s look at what the vaginal bacterial biome is, the signs and causes of bacterial vaginosis, and what your treatment options are.
Women in Las Vegas, Nevada who are dealing with bacterial vaginosis or other vaginal conditions can depend on the winner of the 2021 Gold Best Women's Clinic, New Beginnings OB-GYN. Dr. Staci McHale and her team are dedicated to providing individualized, compassionate healthcare to keep you healthy.
Understanding the vaginal bacterial biome
Your vagina has a microorganism ecosystem that changes regularly during your menstrual cycle and at points throughout your life. If it’s in good health, it has an abundance of a bacteria called Lactobacillus which creates lactic acid to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Sometimes, the population of this bacteria can shrink due to diet, stress, health conditions, and changes in your pH. This can create an environment for bad bacteria to thrive and lead to conditions like bacterial vaginosis.
Signs and causes of bacterial vaginosis
While as many as 84% of women may not experience any signs of this condition, this infection can cause you to experience discharge that smells fishy (which may be strongest after sex or during your period) or have a gray, off-white, or greenish color. In some cases, you may also be itchy or sore.
Many things can create imbalances in your vaginal microbiome and lead to infection, such as sex with a new partner or multiple partners, douching, not using barrier methods (like condoms) during sex, being pregnant, or recent use of antibiotics. Getting bacterial vaginosis can also increase the chances of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and create problems with fertility or during pregnancy.
Treating bacterial vaginosis
Here’s some good news about treating bacterial vaginosis: not only are the antibiotics used to treat this condition effective 90% of the time, but it is also possible the condition may go away on its own in about one-third of cases. If you have symptoms, getting antibiotics is still the smart choice as it can take up to a week to eliminate the infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous but can be unpleasant and increase the risks of other more harmful conditions. But it is very treatable, and help is available. If you’re dealing with this infection or other vaginal problems, make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today to get the help you need.